Some Questionable Creationist Credentials
Copyright © 1998 by
[Last update: May 31, 2002]
he following is a list of prominent (or once-prominent) creationists whose only doctoral degrees are either honorary or of suspicious origin. A degree is considered to be of suspicious origin if it was earned from a "degree mill" or an unlocatable institution. A degree mill is defined as any degree-granting body that is not accredited by a federally recognized accreditation body.
It would be wrong to infer from this list that all creationists have suspicious credentials. In fact, a good number of prominent creationists have legitimate -- even noteworthy -- doctoral degrees in scientific fields. For example, Duane Gish earned a doctorate in biochemistry from Berkeley, Steve Austin earned a doctorate in geology from Pennsylvania State University, and Kurt Wise earned his doctorate in paleontology from Harvard while studying under Stephen Jay Gould. So just because a few well-known creationists failed to earn their graduate degrees the traditional way does not mean that all or even most of them did.
Thomas Barnes, formerly affiliated with the Institute for Creation Research, is
perhaps best known for the argument that the decay of the Earth's magnetic field is
proof of its young age.
Barnes, who is an emeritus professor of physics at The University of Texas at El Paso, holds a legitimate M.S. degree in physics from Brown University. However, his Sc.D. degree from Hardin-Simmons University, a Christian school and his undergraduate alma mater (when it was known as Hardin-Simmons College), is merely honorary.
(Thomas Barnes the creationist is not to be confused with the University of Texas at Austin's Thomas G. Barnes III, who is a highly respected astronomer and senior research scientist of the McDonald Observatory.)
Carl Baugh is best known as a tireless proponent of the claim that
human footprints appear alongside dinosaur tracks in the Paluxy
Riverbed of Glen Rose, Texas. He has appeared on numerous Christian
radio talkshows and was even touted as an "expert" on the 1996 NBC
pseudoscience program, The Mysterious
Origins of Man. He operates a small
museum out of Glen Rose, Texas.
Baugh is a Baptist minister who claims to be an archeologist with a Ph.D. from the California Graduate School of Theology in Los Angeles. This school is unaccredited by the Western Assocation of Schools and Colleges, the primary body responsible for college and university accreditation in the region. It is also unaccredited by the state of California, although it is listed as "approved".
Baugh has also claimed Ph.D. degrees in education and anthropology from the Pacific College of Graduate Studies in Melbourne, Australia and the College of Advanced Education in Irving, Texas. According to Glen Kuban, who has thoroughly researched Baugh's Paluxy "man-track" claims and his credentials, neither Pacific College nor the College of Advanced Education is accredited or authorized by any regional or national body to grant degrees . Pacific College is a small religious school run by Australian creationist Clifford Wilson, a close associate of Baugh's. The College of Advanced Education is a division of the International Baptist College, of which Baugh himself is president.
Baugh's dissertation for his degree from Pacific College is titled "Academic Justification for Voluntary Inclusion of Scientific Creation in Public Classroom Curricula, Supported by Evidence that Man and dinosaurs were Contemporary". Its contents include descriptions of his field-work on the Paluxy river "man-tracks", speculation about Charles Darwin's religious beliefs and phobias, and odd ramblings about the biblical Adam's mental excellence.
Richard Bliss, formerly a member of the ICR staff, claimed to be "a recognized
expert in the field of science education" and was co-author of a
"two-model" book that creationists have pushed for use in the public
Bliss claimed to earn a D.Ed. from the University of Sarasota in 1978. A previous version of this article described the university as a "diploma mill operating out of a Florida motel" as late as 1984. However, the university's status has since improved. The University of Sarasota was accredited in 1990 by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to grant masters and doctoral degrees. According to the 1997 edition of Bears' Guide to Earning College Degrees Nontraditionally , a student's total residency at the University of Sarasota can be as short as six weeks.
Clifford Burdick, a researcher for the Creation
Research Society and a member of the Creation-Science Research
Center, is a "flood" geologist who has spent forty years trying to
prove that giant humans once roamed the earth and even mingled with
Burdick has displayed a copy of his Ph.D. from the University of Physical Sciences (Phoenix, Arizona) in Carl Baugh's Glen Rose Creation Evidence Museum. According to Ronald Numbers' The Creationists : "[Creationist Walter Lammerts'] inquiries revealed the University of Physical Science to be nothing more than a registered trademark. As described in its memographed bulletin, 'The University is not an educational institution, but a society of individuals of common interest for the advancement of physical science. There are no campus, professors or tuition fee.'"
John Grebe, an old-earth creationist and a founding member of the Creation
Research Society, was a physical chemist and inventor. His
Sc.D. degree from Case School of Applied Science was merely honorary.
Kent Hovind is a young-earth creationist who gives frequent public lectures on evolution
and creationism. He is well-known for repeating the claim that the
remains of a basking shark found by Japanese fishermen off the coast
of New Zealand were actually those of a recently deceased plesiosaur.
Hovind claims to possess a masters degree and a doctorate in education from Patriot University in Colorado. According to Hovind, his 250-page dissertation was on the topic of the dangers of teaching evolution in the public schools. Formerly affiliated with Hilltop Baptist Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Patriot University is accredited only by the American Accrediting Association of Theological Institutions, an accreditation mill that provides accreditation for a $100 charge. Patriot University has moved to Alamosa, Colorado and continues to offer correspondence courses for $15 to $32 per credit. The school's catalog contains course descriptions but no listing of the school's faculty or their credentials. Name It and Frame It lists Patriot University as a degree mill .
Don Patton is a young-earth creationist who, along with Carl Baugh, is
known as a proponent of the claim that human footprints appear
alongside dinosaur tracks in the Paluxy Riverbed of Glen Rose, Texas.
Patton has claimed Ph.D. candidacy in geology from Queensland Christian University in Australia. According to Glen Kuban:
When I asked Patton for clarification on this during the [1989 Bible-Science] conference, he stated that he had no degrees, but was about to receive a Ph.D. degree in geology, pending accreditation of QCU, which he assured me was "three days away." Many days have since passed, and Patton still has no valid degree in geology. Nor is the accreditation of QCU imminent. Glen Kuban has written more extensively on Patton's claimed degrees in his articles on the Paluxy "man-tracks".
Kelly Segraves is the director and co-founder of the Creation-Science Research
Center (not to be confused with the Creation Research Society).
In 1975, Segraves listed himself as M.A. and D.Sc. on CSRC letterhead. Segraves claimed his honorary D.Sc. from Christian University, but no such university could be located. It is possible that he was referring to Indiana Christian University, which also conferred an honorary doctorate on Harold Slusher (see below). After having this degree called into question, Segraves dropped the D.Sc. in 1981 and now lists D.R.E. in its place. A D.R.E. degree is a doctorate of religious education and does not qualify as a scientific degree.
Segraves also claims to have received his M.A. from Sequoia University in 1972. According to Bears' Guide , Sequoia University was issued a permanent injunction in 1984 by a Los Angeles judge and ordered to "cease operation until the school could comply with state education laws." The school offered degrees in osteopathic medicine, religious studies, hydrotherapy and physical sciences.
Harold S. Slusher, formerly of the Institute for Creation Research, is
best known for his critiques of radiometric dating techniques. He is
also known for the rather bizarre suggestion that the universe is much
smaller than it appears, because its geometry is Riemannian as opposed
Slusher claims to hold an honorary D.Sc. from Indiana Christian University and a Ph.D. in geophysics from Columbia Pacific University. Robert Schadewald discovered that Indiana Christian University is a Bible College with only a 1/2 man graduate science department. As for Columbia Pacific, it "exhibits several qualities of a degree mill" . Ronald Numbers describes CPU as
an unaccredited correspondence school that recruited students with the lure of a degree "in less than a year." Slusher's dissertation consisted of a manila folder containing copies of five memographed ICR "technical monographs" and a copy of the ICR graduate school catalog, all held together with a rubber band. The supervising professor was his creationist colleague from El Paso and the ICR, [Thomas] Barnes, who himself possessed only an honorary doctorate. According to Bears' Guide , Columbia Pacific was denied its application for state license renewal in early 1996 for undisclosed reasons. The university appealed the decision in late 1996, but the appeal had not been acted upon by the time Bears' Guide went to press.
This document is a heavily revised version of an article written for talk.origins by Michael Cranford. I would like to thank Richard Trott, Robert Schadewald, Jim Foley, and Ed Brayton for their helpful information, comments and suggestions.
 John B. Bear and Mariah P. Bear, Bears' Guide to Earning College Degrees Nontraditionally (C&B Publishing, Benicia, California 1997).
 Ronald Numbers, The Creationists: The Evolution of Scientific Creationism (University of California Press, Berkeley, 1991).
 Steve Levikoff, Name It and Frame It? New Opportunities in Adult Education and How to Avoid Being Ripped Off by 'Christian' Degree Mills, 4th ed. (1995), available at <http://training.loyola.edu/cdld/nifi.html>, last accessed on June 24, 1998.
 Glen Kuban, The Texas Dinosaur/"Man Track" Controversy (1986), available at <http://paleo.cc/paluxy/paluxy.htm>, last accessed on June 24, 1998.
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